The goal of this work was to successfully deploy and test an intra-nodal cancer-cell injection model to enable planar fluorescence imaging of a clinically relevant blue dye, specifically methylene blue – used in the sentinel lymph node procedure – in normal and tumor-bearing animals, and subsequently segregate tumor-bearing from normal lymph nodes. This direct-injection based tumor model was employed in athymic rats (6 normal, 4 controls, 6 cancer-bearing), where luciferase-expressing breast cancer cells were injected into axillary lymph nodes. Tumor presence in nodes was confirmed by bioluminescence imaging before and after fluorescence imaging. Lymphatic uptake from the injection site (intradermal on forepaw) to lymph node was imaged at approximately 2 frames/minute. Large variability was observed within each cohort.
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